Smuggler’s Cove

From Smuggler’s Tales, by Sally J. Ling

Another popular place to unload the illegal cargo was Deerfield Island, now a Broward County park. Located on the Intracoastal Waterway between Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach the 56-acre triangular island was formerly owned by Al Capone who purchased the island because of its secluded location. Known as Capone Island, it provided the perfect setting for the mobster to carry out his lucrative rum running in the early 1930s.

Few firsthand accounts of bootlegger stories exist but two that occurred in Palm Beach County are especially fascinating. The first involved Miss Alice DeLamar, a longtime winter resident of Palm Beach. Below is an excerpt from “The Night the Bootleg Boats Arrived” by James R. Knott as told in the Sunday Brown Wrapper of the Palm Beach Post, March 21, 1982:

They liked to land their boats on my beach on South Ocean Boulevard because my driveway was secluded from the road and several trucks could park there after dark waiting for the fleet’s arrival. My gardener caretaker knew the rules of the game. After dark you approached people of the bootleg profession always with a lighted cigarette prominently displayed to prove you were not sneaking up on them. When boats arrived silently at the beach on a calm night where there was no surf, the cargo of bags had to be carried to the trucks, and as a grateful tribute two or three bags would be left on my doorstep. Bags had no labels so one did not know if the gift was whiskey, gin or rum but one did at least know that it would be of excellent quality out of the British market. 

The story goes on to recount how one night the caretaker woke DeLamar before dawn. High winds had swamped two heavy-laden boats east of her beach. While the crew swam ashore, the cargo sank in about 14 feet of water. DeLamar and a number of friends, including Horace Chase, Addison Mizner’s nephew, canoed out into the ocean and marked the lost contraband with a buoy. Realizing the only way to accurately locate the bags was from the air, they enlisted the aid of a pilot to pinpoint the location.

DeLamar and her friends managed to salvage 20 bags before the surf kicked up and they had to abandon their booty. But down at the Widener estate, a butler up early spied a bag washed upon the beach. The rest of the domestic staff soon joined him. Before long, a convoy of cars stopped on the road. Their drivers gawked at the spectacle of liveried servants wading in the surf. Attracted by the commotion, revenuers soon closed the road and confiscated the remaining bags.


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